LOUIS TINNIN M.D.
Psychiatrist and Co-Founder of ITR®
Bessel Van der Kolk described Dr. Tinnin as "the greatest trauma mind of the 20th century." Dr. Tinnin and Dr. Gantt have devoted their life work to developing how to help people eradicate trauma symptoms and live a happy, healthy life.
Louis Tinnin, M.D., and Linda Gantt, Ph.D., ATR-BC, two long-time researchers in trauma, developed their theories and treatment techniques based on cutting-edge brain research, animal survival instincts, years of clinical observations, and first-person accounts of trauma survivors treated using ITR. They have shown that recovery is possible by applying the simple tasks of Graphic Narrative™ and Externalized Dialogue™ to help the brain “reboot." ITR finishes the trauma stories, reverses dissociation, and eliminates "Victim Mythology."
Dr. Tinnin (1932-2014) had a successful 50-year career as a psychiatrist. He served tirelessly as the founder of two outpatient trauma clinics: Trauma Recovery Institute (1996-2006) and Intensive Trauma Therapy (2006-present).
He and his wife, Linda Gantt, developed the Instinctual Trauma Response™ method from early clinical trials at Chestnut Ridge Hospital at West Virginia University (Morgantown, West Virginia) and the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Administration Medical Center (Clarksburg, West Virginia).
In the 1970s, Dr. Tinnin had a private practice in psychiatry in Laurel, Maryland. He was active in the politics of mental health and instrumental in getting the state of Maryland to pass a law requiring that general hospitals have psychiatric units at a time when even the most prestigious hospital in the state was little more than a warehouse for seriously disturbed psychiatric patients.
After moving to West Virginia in 1979, Dr. Tinnin served as the medical director of a community mental health center. In 1984, he joined the faculty of the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at West Virginia University, serving as associate professor and professor. He began learning more about post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an area that interested few people at the time.
Some cases that Dr. Tinnin saw in medical school stayed with him his entire life. He questioned the received wisdom of older doctors who did not comprehend how invasive medical procedures without anesthesia for babies could be traumatic. These doctors assumed the child’s nervous system was too immature to feel pain and, even if the child did feel it, he or she would not remember it. His clinical observations impelled Dr. Tinnin to work out procedures for dealing with early memories that were nonverbal but resulted in long-lasting and disturbing symptoms.
In 1992, Dr. Tinnin developed a Fellowship in Psychotraumatology in conjunction with WVU and the VA Medical Center. It was then that he began doing research on how to process traumatic events without reliving them including those in infancy and childhood.
After retiring from WVU in 1996 with the rank of professor emeritus, Dr. Tinnin established his own clinics, the Trauma Recovery Institute (TRI) (1996-2006) and Intensive Trauma Therapy (ITT) (2006-present), where he refined his ideas about effective, simple, and brief trauma treatment.
Dr. Tinnin wrote a number of professional papers and made over 200 national and international presentations. He and Linda authored The Instinctual Trauma Response and Dual Brain Dynamics (2013). Although Dr. Tinnin knew his health was failing, he continued to work on several projects until two weeks before his death.
Dr. Tinnin was a strong supporter of the mental health emancipation and recovery movements. He devoted his life to collaborating with other professionals and spreading the good news that trauma can be easily and effectively resolved and that it doesn't take years to do it.
LINDA GANTT PhD
Art Therapist and Co-Founder of ITR®
Linda Gantt, like her husband, is dedicated to the mental health emancipation movement. She strives to keep her contributions to trauma recovery and art therapy up to date with the challenging mental health field. Dr. Gantt's Formal Elements ArtTherapy Scale (FEATS) is studied at graduate art therapy programs and her Instinctual Trauma Response program is being adopted by many agencies and programs.
Dr. Gantt is the owner and Executive Director of Intensive Trauma Recovery and ITR Training Institute LLC. In late 2020 she co-founded Help For Trauma Inc., a non-profit established to fund trauma research and offer trauma-effective training to mental health workers.
She is a board-certified art therapist (ATR-BC) with the Art Therapy Credentials Board. Her contributions to her profession are well known among art therapists, having served as president and editor of the inaugural issue of the journal of the American Art Therapy Association, and as the chair of the National Coalition of Art Therapies Associations. She is also a leading art therapy author. She, along with Carmello Tabone, developed the internationally recognized Formal Elements Art Therapy Scale (FEATS).
Dr. Gantt has taught in a number of graduate art therapy programs including the George Washington University, Vermont College, Notre Dame de Namur, and Florida State University.
Dr. Gantt worked for 7 years in her first art therapy position on the psychiatric and detoxification units at Prince George’s General Hospital, Cheverly, Maryland. During that time in the mid-1970s, the hospital staff did no routine screening for psychological traumas.
The conventional wisdom was that such things were better left alone. But the art therapy program Dr. Gantt conducted provided patients a means of showing their subjective experiences when they had no words for them. With the benefit of hindsight, Dr. Gantt can look back and see that a number of people who were hospitalized repeatedly were actually trauma survivors.
Over her 40-year career, Dr. Gantt watched the field of traumatology grow and develop in its theories and research.
As she and Dr. Tinnin developed their Intensive Trauma Response® theoretical model, Dr. Gantt contributed her expertise in the nonverbal techniques of art therapy to create Graphic Narrative™. She demonstrated that these techniques--along with ”finishing the story”--have the ability to not just manage trauma symptoms but to eliminate many of them for good. This also frees any dissociative parts to engage in Externalized Dialogue™ and be relieved of their burdens, and to be helpful in the person’s present-day life.
Dr. Gantt is committed to spreading the word about effective trauma treatment through the ITR professional training programs she has developed, her writings, and the ITR® App. She strives to give trauma survivors access to psycho-education and tools for life that are useful far beyond the actual program sessions.
The Mental Health Freedom Movement
Everyone has the right to be healed and help others heal. The ITR® evidence-supported treatment method is available to you no matter what your education or background. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers training for peer workers in behavioral health services through SAMHSA.
We don’t ask “What’s wrong with the person?” We ask “What’s happened to the person?”
ITR is simple, fast, and effective. We recommend people work with a licensed mental health provider, but sometimes this is not possible or desired.
If you are a licensed clinician you will find courses approved by both the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
With over 30 years of clinical experience helping individuals dealing with trauma and other mental health challenges, psychiatrist Dr. Louis Tinnin and art therapist Dr. Linda Gantt developed and tested the approach in their practices. Dr. Linda Gantt now focuses on training the next generation of therapists to help their client's process trauma and improve their lives.
What Experts Are Saying
LOUIS TINNIN, MD
Psychiatrist and Co-Founder of the ITR™ Method
“Trauma is the biggest mental health problem of the 21st century and it is the most treatable."
ERIC GENTRY, PhD.
Author of "Forward-Facing Trauma Therapy" and otherbooks.
“I studied under Dr. Louis Tinnin, a towering figure in the field of trauma research and treatment who has been described (by Bessel Van der Kolk) as “the greatest trauma mind of the 20th Century.”
JUDITH RUEBEN, PhD., ATR-BC
Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh
“Whether acute or sustained, the effects of trauma on the brain can lead not only to anguish for the client, but also to frustration for the clinician. These painful conditions, so often resistant to even the most sophisticated therapies, are now, thanks to the dedication of Drs. Tinnin and Gantt, able to be approached with a new and remarkably successful methodology. This is a model for responsible and effective care.”
DANNI DAVIS, LCSW, CCSOT, ITR-CT
“I love the ITR. I think it will revolutionize mental health and trauma treatment. I think everyone should be trained ITR. It’s effective. it’s quick, but most of all, it reduces PTSD symptoms and that’s what we want, for these children and adults to have healthy, happy lives."
LINDA GANTT, PhD, ATR-BC
Art Therapist and Co-Founder of the ITR™ Method
“PTSD is not a life sentence. In our work, we see symptoms greatly reduced or completely eliminated, and it doesn’t take years to do it.”
ROBERT SCAER, MD
Author of "The Body Bears the Burden", "The Trauma Spectrum", and "Eight Keys to Body-Brain Balance."
“The therapeutic implications of this concept are profound, and are addressed in detail, providing theory and application of techniques that embrace both cognitive and non-verbal somatic/behavioral elements.”
GLENN SCHIRALDI,Ph.D., LTC
Author of "The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook," "The Relience Workbook" and "The Adverse Childhood Experiences Recovery Workbook" and other books.
“The Instinctual Trauma Response model allows for the gentle and rapid processing of haunting traumatic memories in a matter of days, not months or years. Their sensitivity and compassion, along with their exceptionally astute understanding of trauma and the healing process, have produced a significant breakthrough in the field of trauma treatment. I applaud their work, and enthusiastically recommend ITR to all those who treat and support survivors of trauma.”
CHRISTY PAGELS, LPC, ATR-BC, ITR-TTS
“The ITR method helps clients address the effects of harm produced by trauma and stop the negative effects from continuing. It’s a trauma treatment approach that honors the whole person."